Magazine article Mortgage Banking

The Rationale for Customer-Service Training

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

The Rationale for Customer-Service Training

Article excerpt

Most of my columns are directed at people who approve budgets and staffing for training. This one suggests actual training content that I have found successful for engaging an audience, and kicking off a customer-service training event.

Conceptually, I like to begin every training session with a lecture segment or (better) an exercise that answers the unspoken questions of the participants: "What am I doing here? Why should 1 bother to learn this?"

Over the years, I have evolved a process for opening and positioning customer-service training that has been very successful for me. It makes the case for providing exceptional customer service with elegant and compelling logic, and it's fun.

I'd like to share it with readers, because it's my perception that customer service is getting a diminished portion of corporate training attention (that was my last column, in the June issue of Mortgage Banking}, and if you can use my template, it may help the cause in some small way.

I like to begin by asking the participants, "When can you have shoddy products, high prices and lousy customer service, and still do a huge business?" It's a catchy question, and I have never seen a group fail to enjoy actively wrestling with it.

When the group has processed the question, I acknowledge whatever answers they have come up with, and suggest my own by telling the story of a man I worked with many years ago. After he got paid on Friday, he would take his pay and head to the Friday night crap game that was held behind the local garage, where he would proceed to lose his money. Eventually, a well-meaning friend took him aside and said to him, "Don't you know those dice are loaded?" He replied, "Sure, boss, I know that--but it's the only game in town."

The precept, obviously, is that when you're "the only game in town," you can do whatever you want.

I ask for examples of organizations known for horrible customer service. Frequently, the first one mentioned is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and I say, "Exactly. You can't say, 'I'm going to pay my taxes to the other guys,' because there are no other guys."

Several other entities get tossed out, and I always add the organization that I most love to hate: the Department of Motor Vehicles. …

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